Rue McClanahan Biography

(Actress and Comedian Best Known for Her Role as Blanche Devereaux on TV Sitcom ‘The Golden Girls’)

Birthday: February 21, 1934 (Pisces)

Born In: Healdton, Oklahoma, United States

Rue McClanahan was an American actress best known for portraying the role of Blanche Devereaux in the TV series ‘The Golden Girls’. At the age of four, she appeared on stage in the local production of ‘The Three Little Kittens’. After graduating from Ardmore High School, she was offered a dance scholarship but chose to study Drama at the University of Tulsa and at the same time joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She made her professional stage debut in the play ‘Inherit the Wind’, in 1957, and made her Broadway debut, in 1969. She was then spotted by television executive Norman Lear who cast her in various television series, such as ‘Maude’ and ‘Mama's Family’. Her most notable TV series was ‘The Golden Girls’ for which she won many awards and nominations. Apart from being an actress, she was also an animal welfare advocate and a liberal democrat. In 2007, she released her autobiography entitled ‘My First Five Husbands... and the Ones Who Got Away’ in which she spoke about her six marriages.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Eddi-Rue McClanahan

Died At Age: 76


Spouse/Ex-: Morrow Wilson, Gus Fisher (1976-1979), Norman Hartweg (1959-1961), Peter DeMaio (1964-1971), Tom Bish (1958-1959), Tom Keel (1984-1985)

father: William Edwin, William Edwin "Bill" McClanahan (1908 – 1999)

mother: Dreda Rheua-Nell (née Medaris; 1912 – 1973)

children: Mark Bish

Born Country: United States

Actresses Comedians

Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Females

Died on: June 3, 2010

place of death: New York City, United States

Ancestry: Irish American

Notable Alumni: University Of Tulsa

Diseases & Disabilities: Breast Cancer

Cause of Death: Brain Hemorrhage

U.S. State: Oklahoma

More Facts

education: University Of Tulsa

Childhood & Early Life
Eddi-Rue McClanahan was born on February 21, 1934, in Healdton, Oklahoma, to Dreda Rheua-Nell (née Medaris) and William Edwin "Bill" McClanahan. Her mother was a beautician and her father was a building contractor.
She made her stage debut in the local production named ‘The Three Little Kittens’, at the age of four.
She graduated from Ardmore High School where she performed in many plays and won gold medal in oration. As National Honor Society member, she graduated from University of Tulsa, majored in Drama and German and joined the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority as vice president.
Continue Reading Below
Rue McClanahan made her professional debut on stage in 1957 in ‘Inherit the Wind’ at Pennsylvania's Erie Playhouse and made her Broadway debut in 1969 in the John Sebastian and Murray Schisgal's original musical ‘Jimmy Shine’.
She made her television debut in 1961 in an episode of ‘The Aquanauts’ and came into notice for portraying Caroline Johnson on ‘Another World’ (1970-1971). Then she appeared in CBS soap opera ‘Where the Heart Is’ (1971-72).
She was then spotted by television executive Norman Lear who cast her in number of TV series including ‘All in the Family’ (1971), ‘Maude’ (1972) and in ‘Mama's Family’ (1983). Thereafter, she bagged the role of Blanche Devereaux in TV series ‘The Golden Girls’, which ran from 1985-92.
She also appeared in films like ‘The Rotten Apple’ (1961), ‘Walk the Angry Beach’ (1968), ‘Out to Sea’ (1997) and ‘The Fighting Temptations’ (2003). In 2003, she appeared in the play ‘Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks’ and musical romantic comedy ‘The Fighting Temptations’
Her final regular acting role was of Peggy Ingram in the cable series ‘Sordid Lives’ on the Logo network, premiered on July 23, 2008. In 2009, she appeared in an episode of TV series, ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Meet the Browns’.
Major Works
Rue McClanahan gained wide recognition for her role of Southern belle Blanche Devereaux in the TV series ‘The Golden Girls’ (1985–92) for which she earned six nominations and four awards including ‘Emmy Award’ for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987.
Family & Personal Life
Rue McClanahan was married five times before getting hitched to her sixth husband Morrow Wilson in 1997. She had a son named Mark Bish from her first husband.
In June 1997, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and completed her treatment successfully. In 2007, she released her autobiography, named ‘My First Five Husbands...and the Ones Who Got Away’ narrating her experience of six marriages.
An animal rights advocate and life-long vegetarian, she was a strong supporter of ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’. She also supported gay rights and advocated same-sex marriage in US.
Being a liberal democrat, she wrote a letter to presidential nominee John Kerry in 2003 informing him that he lost her vote and support due to pheasant hunting. In 2008, during presidential elections, she endorsed Barack Obama.
On November 4, 2009, she had triple bypass surgery and while recovering, suffered from a minor stroke. She died on June 3, 2010, at the age of 76, at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital due to brain hemorrhage. After cremation, her ashes were handed to her family.


Primetime Emmy Awards
1987 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls (1985)

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